21 As he said to them, “This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read.”
22 They were all well impressed with him and marvelled at the eloquent words that he spoke. They said, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?”
23 He said to them, “I am sure that you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ You will also tell me to do here in my home town the same things you heard were done in Capernaum.
24 I tell you this,” Jesus added, “prophets are never welcomed in their home town.
25 Listen to me: it is true that there were many widows in Israel during the time of Elijah, when there was no rain for three and a half years and a severe famine spread throughout the whole land.
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to anyone in Israel, but only to a widow living in Zarephath in the territory of Sidon.
27 And there were many people suffering from a dreaded skin disease who lived in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha; yet not one of them was healed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were filled with anger.
29 They rose up, dragged Jesus out of the town, and took him to the top of the hill on which their town was built. They meant to throw him over the cliff,
30 but he walked through the middle of the crowd and went his way.
Other readings: Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; Ps 71:1-6, 15, 17; 1 Cor 12:31-13:13
This week’s reading continues the passage we started last week. We are still in the synagogue in Nazareth but the atmosphere changes dramatically. From being impressed with his eloquent words (verse 22), the congregation become angry, drag Jesus out of town and want to throw him over a cliff (verse 28-29).
While there was amazement at Jesus’s teaching and his remarkable claim to be the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy – the Messiah – there was no faith or acceptance in the people. They simply could not accept a carpenter’s son and the Messiah as one and the same person.
Jesus reminded them of how it was for Elijah and Elisha. These great prophets also suffered disbelief from their own people. Elijah was the first great prophet God used to call his people back to him. Elijah prophesied a drought to King Ahab. When the three-year drought began God used a raven, an unclean bird, and a foreigner to save Elijah. The Lebanese woman took Elijah at his word and through her God saved the prophet.
No Israelite helped him. Elisha, Elijah’s successor as a prophet, healed Naaman, a Syrian army general, from a dreaded skin disease. Naaman did what Elisha asked him to do even though he thought it was foolish. He was completely healed and he believed.
Not surprisingly, Jesus’s words angered the people of Nazareth. They deeply resented the comparison with the faithless Israelites of Elijah and Elisha’s time. So they decided to get rid of the problem by killing Jesus.
The people in the synagogue were religious Sabbath-observing Jews. But they were not people of faith and so they rejected Jesus. They only saw the “local boy”, not the Saviour of mankind, and threw away the chance to become his disciples.
What can we learn from this passage about the sort of faith Jesus is looking for? Just attending church and listening to the sermon without faith isn’t enough. What can we learn from the two examples Jesus gives of the widow and Naaman? You can read these stories in 1 Kings 17:8-16 and 2 Kings 5:1-14. What can help our faith grow? How can we put the sort of faith Jesus seeks into action?
Pray through the verses selected from Psalm 71. Ask God for opportunities to tell others how wonderful he is and how he has helped you.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 through several times. As you sit with God allow him to reveal gently where he might want you to grow: in faith, hope or love. Consider God’s amazing words to the prophet in Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19. Which words strike you? What might God be saying to you?
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are published by the Bible Society. Download at Biblesociety.org.uk/lectio. © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York